Money bet on U.S. horse races in '21 jumps nearly 12% to top $12B

By Liz Mullen

Bettors wagered $12.218B on U.S.-based thoroughbred horse races in '21, up 11.86% from the $10.922B wagered in '20, according to Equibase, the thoroughbred industry's official database for racing information and statistics. It is the first time that the total handle for the year topped $12B since '09. The number of race days increased 23% from 3,302 to 4,072 in '21 compared to '20. The number of races also increased year-over-year, by 21% from 27,700 to 33,567. Many tracks across the country, including Santa Anita Park near L.A. and Aqueduct in the N.Y. area, were forced to suspend racing over COVID-related issues in the early days of the pandemic.

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